Arts Emergency

Chrysi Papaioannou

PhD Student in Critical Theory

I am a PhD student at the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, writing a thesis on theories of the avant-garde.

I grew up in Greece and moved to the UK in 1998 to go to university. I went to university because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I knew that I wanted to start living and get away from a stifling environment, but I knew more of who I didn’t want to be (and be with). I was really into music and film, and wanted to make films but my parents advised studying English so I could later teach English as a foreign language (the thought of which terrified me).

I did study English and I did end up teaching English for a little while, but it wasn’t as terrifying as I thought. It was only after I was at the end of the 2nd year of my BA degree that I realised what an amazing experience ‘real study’ could be. Not only because up until going to university, study had meant sterile and uncritical reproduction of what was in the school textbooks, but also because it takes some time for things to begin to make sense (to ‘click’), as one is changed, and realises one is changed, through learning.

I am volunteering for arts emergency to encourage young women and men towards that ‘click’.